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WebSlice is competitively priced and easy to use. The backup feature is good and free SSL is always nice to have. But I can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the page load times were some of the worst I’ve seen from a NZ-based host.
Is WebSlice a Contender for New Zealand’s Best Hosting?
WebSlice, an established web host in New Zealand, has been around for about a decade. It has a data centre in Auckland, which can be beneficial if you’re targeting an NZ-based audience. It has loads of plans on offer: shared hosting, cloud, reseller, VPS, and colocation.
The marketing claims are impressive, the website is slick and persuasive, but sometimes that doesn’t mean much.
I set up a real website with WebSlice and tested the service for three months. There are lots of good features on offer (and some of them are even rare). But I was expecting to see good loading times in the southern hemisphere, and my hopes were dashed.
Keep reading to find out if there’s a chance WebSlice might still be a good choice for you.
WebSlice has three shared hosting plans. They’re all optimised for WordPress, so that’s a bonus right out of the gate. They all come with unlimited bandwidth and a reasonable number of MySQL databases. (Hey, sometimes a website needs more than one database, and sometimes I need more than one popsicle at a time. These things just happen.)
I signed up for the Small Slice plan, which is the cheapest on the list. It gives you 3GB of disk space, and you can set up a maximum of two websites and 20 email accounts. The top-tier plan gives you 12GB of disk space, 8 websites, and unlimited email accounts.
The disk space allowance is definitely on the low side – but then again, only sites with lots of media will find this a problem. (If you absolutely need to host a photo blog full of tiny gourmet meals that are clearly too small to actually eat, you’ll want to pick a more expensive plan.)
If you do find yourself bumping up against the limits of your plan, you can pay a little more to upgrade your resources without having to scale up the whole plan.
I like to see flexibility on shared hosting – it’s quite unusual and very pro-consumer. But I do have to point out that another host from New Zealand, 1st Domains, offers unlimited disk space, so if storage space is your main concern, it might be a better choice for you.
WebSlice has hardware and software firewalls in place to keep your data secure. It also integrates with Cloudflare CDN (content delivery network). You can use Cloudflare with any host, but the fact that WebSlice has that extra level of integration within the control panel that makes it a little easier to get set up.
(And, well… I think you will need to use that CDN if you want good speeds for a global audience. I’ll explain why when I get to the performance tests.)
Before I highlight my favourite features from WebSlice, I need to mention two features that are missing:
WebSlice doesn’t offer a website builder. There is no standalone website builder plan either. If you want to throw together a quick placeholder site, this isn’t the host for you.
Site migration isn’t free. While you can rope in the support department to migrate your site, there will be a fee to pay. Both cPanel and non-cPanel websites can be migrated, but get a quote before signing up. I find this a bit annoying, as many hosts migrate sites for free.
One-Click Installers Help You Get Started
WebSlice uses the Softaculous app installer, so you can install applications like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and a number of ecommerce and forum scripts in one click, without messing around with databases and uploading files. It’s simple enough once you understand the basics.
Backups Galore, and I Mean Galore
I often complain about the lack of automatic backups when I review web hosting services. On this occasion, I was spoilt for choice. I mean, WebSlice offers all the backup tools you could possibly need or want.
The host takes automatic daily, weekly, and monthly backups of your website, which is a great insurance policy against hacks and mishaps while updating your website. (If a jealous Instagrammer tries to take down your food blog, just put it back up and put some passive-aggressive hashtags in your next post.)
There are other manual backup options through cPanel too:
Yet more backups, you say? Heck, even if you didn’t say that, I’m saying it. Through the WordPress Manager feature in the cPanel menu, you can create manual backups of your WordPress website in the cPanel interface:
The automatic backups are the most important. The other options are nice to have, but realistically, few of us will leap out of bed each morning to back up our website manually. Incidentally, the WordPress Manager doesn’t do much that can’t be done in cPanel or on WebSlice’s own dashboard. I’m not sure it’s essential, but I guess someone might find it useful.
Free SSL is Also Here, as it Should Be
Whoop! You get a free SSL certificate on all plans. The certificate is automatically set up for you, which is great, and means that traffic between the server and the user’s browser is encrypted. SSL also ensures that your website has the little padlock icon in the URL bar, boosting confidence for your visitors, and improving your site’s rankings in Google.
It’s becoming a bit of a no-no to run a site without SSL these days, so I like it when hosts make it as easy as possible.
WebSlice free SSL certificates automatically renew, so there’s no maintenance to worry about at all. Your visitors will be happy, you’ll be happy… everyone’s happy. Nice work, WebSlice.See full list of features
Ease of use
Custom Resources and cPanel Make For Easy Management
WebSlice has a good website that’s easy to navigate, and generally, using the service is simple. All management is done through cPanel, so it’s easy to find everything. Help tickets can be created through cPanel so you don’t have to hunt around the site for the contact form.
I didn’t encounter any major issues in the early days of hosting with WebSlice, but I just want to highlight a few things that may affect you.
Be prepared for an ID check, and be aware that you only have 48 hours to provide the documents. I was asked to provide proof of ID, proof of address, and a copy of my payment card. Without this, I couldn’t get the account verified or register my new domain.
(I’m not sure if this check applies to everyone. Perhaps I just look shifty.)
Installing WordPress is simple using Softaculous. Just find Softaculous in cPanel, search for WordPress, click Install Now, and use the form to set up the basic information for your site. You’ll need to write down some basic info, and maybe make a note of your username and password, and then you’re done.
WebSlice’s Loading Speed Test Results Were Disappointing
My real, live website at WebSlice was active for around three months. I ran a series of tests on it so you can see exactly how your website will perform if you sign up.
The short version is this: WebSlice had the slowest loading times out of all the services we tested in New Zealand. While local loading times weren’t atrocious, they routinely went over 2 seconds, which is less than ideal. The global loading times were just… bad.
99.99% uptime was WebSlice’s only saving grace in all of our performance tests.
And now, here are all the gritty details. If you want to embrace the secret hosting geek inside, read on. If you’re in a hurry, you can jump down to the Support section.
Before I started testing, I contacted WebSlice to see if the team would suggest ways I could optimise my website. I like to try to be fair to the host and give them a chance to apply some tweaks. As you can see, Aaron didn’t just recommend GTmetrix, he ran the test himself. He also made some proactive changes, like enabling compression and caching.
Honestly, this level of optimisation help is rare. Most hosts just tell you to go hire a developer, so I want to give WebSlice credit where it is due. This is great service.
So, on to the testing. I ran three types of tests using GTmetrix, the Sucuri Load Time Tester, and UptimeRobot. My site was located at www.autonomous-shoes-nz-o.com (the hosting account has been cancelled to avoid any manipulation of future performance test results). Click here to learn more about the testing methods I used.
Let’s look at how WebSlice performed:
While WebSlice was the slowest NZ-based host I tested, the results were not disastrous. But the fastest speed reported was 1.9s, and the slowest was 4.1s. The median was 2.2s. For this test, I chose the Sydney server, which is the closest to WebSlice’s data centres in Auckland.
I like to see times consistently under 2 seconds, since this tends to be the amount of time a user will wait before losing patience and bouncing away. WebSlice just missed that magic 2-second time in most of my tests.
On the plus side, there’s compression being applied here. Notice how much 1.4MB homepage is coming in at well under 1MB. Nice one, Aaron. It’s just a shame it didn’t boost the end results enough.
Sucuri Load Time Tester
Here’s the other bad news. Global loading times were poor to non-existent. You’ll see what I mean.
Sucuri tests the loading speed of a website from different global data centres. Testing with this tool tells us what global visitors might experience, and in this case, what they might experience is disappointment.
On average, the total loading time came in at between 7 and 10 seconds. The best time I recorded was 1.2s in Los Angeles, in a rare show of impressive speed. The worst was a cringe-worthy 9.9s from the data centre in France.
The results in this screenshot are fairly typical of what I saw across all nine tests:
There does seem to be an issue with connectivity here. Only one test in nine gave me a near-complete set of results. The rest had a large number of failures. That could be down to a network problem or a firewall, but it’s hard to say exactly what was going on.
To be fair, I could have set up Cloudflare CDN through cPanel to try to improve these times. But I didn’t do this with any other host, and I wanted all the tests to be run on an equal footing. If you host with WebSlice and you’re seeing poor global loading times, it would be worth using Cloudflare to try to improve them.
WebSlice gives its shared hosting customers a guarantee of 99.9% uptime. My website achieved 99.99%, which is awesome. Not much more to say, other than that having your website stay up is a very good thing.
WebSlice’s support department is available 24/7, and you can contact the team using the ticket system or by phone. There’s no live chat, and this means a bit of a lag in communication. Sometimes hopping on live chat is the best way to get a simple answer, so this feature was sorely missed.
I opened a few tickets with WebSlice. The average wait time for a ticket response was around two hours. That’s actually really good. I’d be happy with this response time for most queries. (Naturally, if something’s on fire then you’d prefer quicker answers. But some hosts take days to reply, so I’m okay with two hours.)
I contacted support because I couldn’t figure out where Softaculous was. It turns out that it had been removed from cPanel at the time, yet WebSlice had not updated its knowledge base to say so. Just to be clear, Softaculous is back now.
Once I managed to get WordPress installed via another method, it didn’t work properly. I had to go back to support again to get everything working. It wasn’t a great experience, but the support team did eventually get me up and running. (Just to be reiterate, Softaculous is now back online. Happy days.)
The Sign-Up Discount Is Nice, But…
WebSlice isn’t the cheapest host I tested in New Zealand, but it’s not the most expensive either. You can pay monthly, quarterly, or every 6, 12, 24, or 36 months. Advertised prices exclude tax.
If you’re a new customer, you’ll get 20% off hosting on your first invoice. To maximise this discount, it makes sense to purchase the longest plan that you feel comfortable signing up for. This would bring the pricing down to a more competitive level. Remember that the plan will renew at the full price.
There’s no free trial, but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so it’s a good idea to get your website set up within the first month and test out the hosting to make sure you’re happy with it.
You can pay for your hosting with a credit card through PayPal – you don’t need a PayPal account to do this. WebSlice also accepts eWay, direct credits (through internet banking), or automatic payments (AP).
Cancelling WebSlice Hosting
WebSlice hosting is easy to cancel. Just click on Services, then My Services. Click on the row that relates to the hosting you want to cancel. (Don’t click on the domain name – that will load your live site.)
On the left-hand side, click Request Cancellation. Fill in the form and click the red button.
True to form, the interface throughout the cancellation process is clear and easy to use. I really like how WebSlice lets you cancel the domain and hosting at the same time. I can’t think of any other host that does this, and it assured me that I’m not going to get an unexpected invoice for the domain in the future.
WebSlice is competitively priced and easy to use. There are some gaps in its feature list, but it has good backups and I like how it gives you free SSL. It’s a shame its knowledge base was out of date during tests, but the optimisation help I got from the support agent did impress me.
But we can’t ignore the elephant in the room: the poor loading times really are a real issue. Performance in New Zealand was okay, but both VpsCity and 1st Domains were faster in my tests.
There is a wide range of hosting services available, from budget-friendly shared hosting to fancy dedicated servers. The best hosting for your website will depend on your specific needs. If shared hosting isn’t enough for you, there are several cheap and reliable VPS hosting services available.
How do I choose a hosting plan?
Try to estimate the size of your website, and how many visitors you think you’ll be getting each month. Since most web hosting providers will let you easily scale up your plan, it’s always the most cost-effective to start small and upgrade later.
Based in Melbourne, Jack is a long-time web developer and WordPress enthusiast, always interested not only in how things work, but how he can make them work better. You'll typically find him glued to his computer screen at all hours of the day and night, but he does go outside every once in a while - mainly to play squash or do some surfing (or at least pretend to).